Early in 2020 Cheri Blauwet presented at an American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) Conference in Boston. Cheri is a renowned wheelchair racer with 7 Paralympic medals and 2 Boston Marathon titles to her name. Her career path has now taken her into the medical profession where she is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and an Attending Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
In the closing remarks of her address she made an important reference to the people who ‘go that extra mile’. The message stuck with me as I had just spent two hours as part of a virtual training session led by CP Soccer US. This couldn’t be a better example of someone going the extra mile. CP Soccer U.S. is the brainchild of Ashley Hammond. Ashley runs a sports facility in New Jersey and one of his children, Shea, represents the United States as a rising star of the U.S. Para Soccer team. In May, CP Soccer U.S. held a first ever ‘CP Soccer Goes Global’ event with thousands of players and coaches jumping on a webcast through Zoom and Facebook Live from across the world.
I had the pleasure of being invited to the sequel ‘CP Soccer Goes Global 2’ that again hit all five continents during their live feed on Zoom. Organizer Ashley also made use of Facebook Live to provide even more participants with the chance to watch the live session. Talk about going the extra mile!
The real value for me though, was the chance to see what soccer is truly about. Kids from all corners of the globe participating in high energy soccer practices, just the kid and a ball. From Europe to South America to Australia you saw kids in their back yard, driveway, garage, lounge and even in the street working hard to complete each of the set tasks that Ashley and Shea had designed. We even had representation from Canada with Danny White in Kitchener, ON and Ronan Wien from Salmon Arm, BC showing their skills on the screen in front of some fantastic backdrops.
Players from all over the world including these guys below from Belgium, Brazil, Republic of Ireland, Ecuador and Scotland showed their skills during a range of quick-fire, dynamic soccer drills.
Ashley maintained energy and enthusiasm through the entire session providing boosts of encouragement and cheers of support to the players around the world. From start to finish it was easy to see each players positive body language as he gave them a shout out, with the Belgians providing a notable party atmosphere as they participated.
To wrap up the event Ashley had lined up a series of special guests beginning with Stuart Sharp, US Men’s Para Soccer Head Coach and Skye Arthur-Banning of Clemson University who provided commentary and officiating tips as the players brought the session to a close.
The final special guest was the current U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter who spoke with the players about his experience under the COVID-19 pandemic and how he and the players have been staying engaged as they ready themselves for an international return to play in the fall.
In closing I want to re-iterate the concept of going ‘that extra mile’. In creating CP Soccer US, Ashley (pictured above) has established a growing network of chapters across the US in an effort to provide more players a local chance to play soccer. These players may move onto their local soccer club and some may even find their way to a national team program but what is definitely clear – all of them leave each session knowing that they are important and that their hard work each week is getting noticed. While Shea demonstrates each practical session, Ashley is behind the camera commentating on the technique and noting the efforts of each player. They’ve done this from Day 1 of the pandemic and just wrapped up their season after delivering online sessions every week (Mon-Fri) since lock down.
We can’t wait to see where those extra miles will take this program and we can’t wait to see them up here in Canada just as soon as we can get back to normal.
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